Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My lesson in humility

Male family members and friends by warned: this post is about breastfeeding!

Let's start at the beginning shall we? 
When I found we were having a baby, I'll admit, breastfeeding sounded terrible. I was not looking forward to it! I knew that it was the best thing for our little one, but it made me so nervous; I had no idea what I was doing. So I set out to conquer my anxieties and found all the information I could. I talked with other nursing mama's, met with the lactation consultant, and read all sorts of books. When Claire was born, I made sure she nursed within the first hour just like the books said. Those first nights in the hospital I woke up to every little lip smacking noise she made, and made sure to feed her whenever she wanted. I thought to myself: "I'm doing everything the books said, this is going to be easy!"

Now cut to the first day home: I nursed Claire all day, but come night time she was crying like crazy and I was completely drained (milk wise and exhaustion wise!). I remember feeling this terrible guilt, with tears streaming down my face as I  gave her those first 2 oz of formula.  Let me tell you, she downed that bottle! Then I had the guilty feeling of starving my poor daughter all day! This was just the beginning of my lose-lose situation.

To make a long story short, we tried everything after that. We had a lactation consultant visit, we tried fenugreek, mothers milk tea, nursing every two hours, and pumping after each feeding, and still not enough milk for my poor Claire. My doctor and Claire's doctor both assured me that as long as she was getting some breast milk then she was still getting the benefits of it, and formula was fine for her. It's taken me a while but I finally had to come to terms with the fact that Claire has to eat formula too.

I guess what I'm most frustrated with, and the reason that I felt so guilty in the first place, is the judgement I get from others. If I'm nursing with my cover on in public I get the stares like "Thats disgusting, why would she do that in public" but then I go to make a bottle and I get the comments from women saying "You know breast milk really is the best option for your baby".

I don't understand why I get dirty looks for feeding my child, while covered up, but the lady on the other side of the store with her boobs spilling out of her shirt doesn't even get a second look. For heaven's sake I'm more modest than she is!
Then I turn around and I'm getting judged for making formula and I just want to scream "Look, I'm doing everything I can for my baby, but I'm not going to starve her just because I don't want her to have formula".

It makes me want to pull my hair out! I just can't win!

I think what this experience has taught me the most is humility. I'll admit, before I was a parent I would look at other parents and think "When I'm a mom...." and swear up and down not to make that mistake, or do such and such that way. Now that I'm a mother I realize, you do the things you do because you want the best for your child, and you'll never completely know anyone else's story so you have no right to offer your opinions or make passing judgements. 

Being a perfect parent was so much easier when I just had to do it in my head :)

And of course a picture of my very healthy chunky monkey; rolls and chunky cheeks courtesy of mama's milk and formula.


  1. Good for you Ashleigh! I'll offer no advise except this: have you heard about or looked into and prescription medications to help increase your milk? I had a large supply that decided to die overnight, literally, when I came down with strep throat. I tried everything, fenugreek, tea, pumping until I was sore etc and nothing. I wasn't ready to be done so I had my ob write me a prescription for a medication called Domperidone. This medication was not created to increase breastmilk but does as a side effect. I took it for 3 days and by the 4th day I had pumped 30 ounces extra after feeding her! Just a thought, good for you for doing what's best for your baby despite what other uneducated people think ;).

  2. Many of my motherly ideals have been blown out of the water. It makes me more compassionate towards others. It's been interesting to navigate having a child with special medical needs in public. I've gotten stares while I profusely salt his food. I just want to scream, "You have no idea! This is doctor-prescribed!!!" People have no right to comment on your methods of feeding Claire. What if you had had breast cancer and physically couldn't nurse her?? (I have a friend for whom that's the case with her babies.) Sheesh. We just don't know people's stories.

  3. It is amazing when you make plans (I was going to nurse James until 12 months at least) and then they just don't work out (I was drained no matter what I did when he was 5 months). James' awesome pediatrician has told me many times to not feel guilty. His three sons were raised on formula, and they are all healthy, normal teenagers. You and Drew are doing an excellent job as parents because you love Claire more than anything, and that's what really counts.